More on the president’s VFW speech
“Sophisticated” writers and policiticans continue to criticize the president’s invocation of Vietnam during a speech last week before the VFW. As everyone knows, he argued that a premature withdrawal from Iraq would lead to the same sort of bloodbath as ocurred in Vietnam after the US Congress perpetrated the most shameful act in American history–literally pulling the rug out from under a US ally faced with a threat to its very existence.
One Democrat who has not joined the chorus of howels is my friend and fellow Marine infantry veteran of Vietnam, Jim Webb. Maybe that’s because of an op-ed he wrote for the Wall Street Journal in April of 2000. Speaking of the final offensive that led to the North Vietnamese victory, Webb placed a great deal of the blame on the “Watergate” Congress. Webb wrote:
“This Congress was elected in November 1974, only months after Nixon’s
resignation, and it was dominated by a fresh group of antiwar
Democrats. One of the first actions of the new Congress was to vote
down a supplemental appropriation for the beleaguered South Vietnamese
that would have provided $800 million in military aid, including
much-needed ammunition, spare parts and medical supplies.
“This vote was a horrendous blow, in both emotional and practical
terms, to the country that had trusted American judgment for more than
a decade of intense conflict. It was also a clear indication that
Washington was abandoning the South Vietnamese even as the North
Vietnamese continued to enjoy the support of the Soviet Union, China
and other Eastern bloc nations. The vote’s impact was hardly lost on
North Vietnamese military planners, who began the final offensive only
five weeks later, as the South Vietnamese were attempting to adjust
their military defenses.
“Finally, the aftermath of Saigon’s fall is rarely dealt with at all.
A gruesome holocaust took place in Cambodia, the likes of which had
not been seen since World War II. Two million Vietnamese fled their
country — usually by boat — with untold thousands losing their lives
in the process. This was the first such diaspora in Vietnam’s long and
frequently tragic history. Inside Vietnam a million of the South’s
best young leaders were sent to re-education camps; more than 50,000
perished while imprisoned, and others remained captives for as long as
18 years. An apartheid system was put into place that punished those
who had been loyal to the United States, as well as their families, in
matters of education, employment and housing. The Soviet Union made
Vietnam a client state until its own demise, pumping billions of
dollars into the country and keeping extensive naval and air bases at
Cam Ranh Bay.”
Good stuff. I hope Jim will argue that the president is correct, at least with regard to his Iraq-Vietnam analogy.